West Coast Trail: Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions© Parks Canada
For detailed answers to your questions, review the West Coast Trail (WCT): Hiker Preparation Guide.
Do I need a permit to hike the trail?
Should I make a reservation?
Do I have to pay a fee?
Are tsunamis a likely occurrence?
Will I have to pay for an evacuation if I need one?
I have heard that dogs have been allowed on the trail. Is this true?
Can I hire a helicopter to bring my family to Tsusiat Falls for the afternoon?
What do I do if food lockers are full when I arrive at a camping area?
I know removing natural or cultural resources from the beach is not allowed. Can I keep a glass ball if I find one?
Where can I park my car while hiking the WCT?
I understand that the WCT is part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Are there other areas of the park?
For answers to other questions, contact us.
1. Do I need a permit to hike the trail?
Yes. Even if you are only planning a day hike, you need to obtain a permit, participate in the orientation session and check-in once you are off the trail.
2. Should I make a reservation?
All spaces on the West Coast Trail are reservable. Unused reservable spaces will be available to standby hikers. Hikers can register on the standby list when they arrive at either the Pachena Bay or Gordon River trailhead. Registering on the standby list does not guarantee a same day or next day start. Wait times have on occasion reached two days.
3. Do I have to pay a fee?
Yes. Fees must be paid by everyone that hikes the WCT. Payment is made either at the time of reservation or at the trailhead office if you are on stand-by.
4. Are tsunamis a likely occurrence?
The west coast experiences a number of small earthquakes each year. The chances of a tsunami occurring are very slim. If a tsunami alert is issued, hikers on the trail will be notified. If you feel the ground shake or if the water in the ocean suddenly goes out, head for high ground and follow the tsunami escape route.
5. Will I have to pay for an evacuation if I need one?
When you pay the overnight use fee, part of your payment goes to support the rescue services that Parks Canada staff perform.
6. I have heard that dogs have been allowed on the trail. Is this true?
Typically, dogs are not allowed on the trail. However, the park has had one exception – when a visually impaired visitor wished to hike the trail. Special permission was given so that the family could enjoy the trail together.
7. Can I hire a helicopter to bring my family to Tsusiat Falls for the afternoon?
No, the only means of accessing any section of the WCT is to hike from either Pachena Bay, Gordon River or Nitinat.
8. What do I do if food lockers are full when I arrive at a camping area?
If the food lockers are full, or there isn’t one where you are camping, hang your food approximately 4 metres off the ground and 3 meters away from tree trunk. Do not hang your food above your tent or your neighbours’. Clothes you wore when cooking your dinner should be left outside of your tent at night as clothes can absorb food odour.
9. I know removing natural or cultural resources from the beach is not allowed. Can I keep a glass ball if I find one?
Yes. Removal of any man-made object is permitted.
10. Where can I park my car while hiking the WCT?
There is unsecure parking available at each of the trailheads. Secure parking is offered in the communities of Bamfield and Port Renfrew.
Parking at Nitinat Village is available. Contact Ditidaht First Nations Visitor Centre and Store for information.
11. I understand that the WCT is part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Are there other areas of the park?
Yes, the WCT is only one unit of Pacific Rim. Long Beach, famous for its long sandy beaches can be accessed by car following Highway 4. The Broken Group Islands is a cluster of over 100 islands, islets and reefs in the Barkley Sound area. It is only accessible by boat.